GOING ON VACATION – IS YOUR HOUSE SAFE?

School’s Out For Summer, what a great song by Alice Cooper. It also marks the beginning of summer vacation. I thought I would give you a few tips on keeping your home safe while on vacation.

The best way to safeguard your house while you’re away is having a friend and family member stay in your home. Make sure they follow your routine putting out the trash and cutting the grass etc.

If you can’t arrange for a house sitter then be sure to take some of the following steps:

  •  Have the post office hold your mail. If your mail box is overflowing this is a dead giveaway that you are not home. And don’t forget to stop the newspaper delivery.
  • Get a neighbour or family member to check on your house every couple of days to pick up any flyers and water the plants.
  • If you are diligent about your landscaping and cut your grass weekly make sure you continue that routine. Hire a service to take care of that as an unkempt yard is a definite sign of an owner’s absence.
  • Try to make your home look lived in. Put interior and exterior lighting on timers. Also get a neighbour to put out your garbage cans and bring them in after they are emptied. This will make everything appear as normal.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. You should also disconnect the auto garage door opener so it can’t be opened with a universal remote control.
  • In the age of modern technology many home owners tell the world they are going on vacation on facebook etc. You never know who is reading your posts so be careful about what you say.
  • You could always have a security system installed to protect your home which is a good investment at any time.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please take the time to secure your home while on vacation as this will greatly reduce the opportunity for someone to break into your home. Happy vacation everyone!

ARE YOU SAFE WHEN SWIMMING????

Now that the warmer weather is FINALLY here, and homeowners are getting their pools ready for the summer, I thought it would be a good time to talk about water safety for you and your family. Whether you’re at the beach or in a private pool, if you follow a few safety procedures, you will ensure that swimming this summer will be safe and fun.

 

If you are at a public pool there are usually a list of rules and regulations. These rules are there for your protection and if followed, will prevent accidents and keep pools clean and safe. Be sure not to play around suction lines or pool drains.

 

Children should always walk, and not run, around the edges of the pool as it is quite often wet and can be very slippery. Always remind your children to play carefully around water. Wrestling and pushing each other could cause someone to hit their head and be knocked unconscious. This could cause someone to drown very quickly if they don’t get help.

 

You should always become familiar with the water surroundings before you jump or dive in. Enter slowly and feet first as there could be underwater hazards such as rocks, submerged logs, or the water isn’t as deep as it appears.

 

Never swim alone. You should always swim with a “buddy” so you can watch out for each other, even when there is a life guard. When you go in the water, never go further or deeper if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

 

When it comes to younger children you should never leave your child alone. I know this may sound like common sense but many drowning accidents occur when a parent takes their eyes off their child for just a quick moment. A child can drown in just a few minutes in a few centimeters of water.

 

So when you’re out enjoying this great summer, whether on vacation or in your own back yard, be sure you practice good water safety habits at all times.

ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT PRODUCT?

Last week Ann talked about what our product was at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate. Today I want to talk about choosing the right product for you.

 

There are many different business models in the real estate industry today, from Fee for Service to Full Service and everything in between. You need to do your due diligence to ensure you get the level of service you need.

 

For example, there are REALTORS® who are telling investor clients to call the listing sales representative to view the property and if they want to buy the property to call them back to put in the offer. Do you really think that REALTOR® can give the proper advice to their client if they haven’t seen the property themselves?

 

Be careful when dealing with a seller that has hired a Fee for Service Brokerage just to get their listing posted to REALTOR.CA and is handling all the other details themselves. These sellers do not have to follow any Code of Ethics or timelines etc. An example would be, telling you there are competing offers, when they don’t actually exist just to get you to increase your offer.

 

Many critics of the real estate industry say the REALTOR® is going the way of the Dodo bird. In reality, according to the National Association of Realtors® most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, the REALTOR’S® role is even more important. The consumer needs the REALTOR’S® expertise to sift through the mounds of information, and as Ann put it, “interpret the information available to maximize the return on your investment.

 

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate, do your research and make sure you get the level of service you need. Talk to a real estate professional. Better still, talk to a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate Professional. Good luck!

 

BIDDING WARS – ARE YOU A “SMART” BUYER?

I read a couple of real estate articles in the past two days regarding multiple offer situations or “Bidding Wars” as they are commonly known.

 

The first article, published in the Toronto Star on April 28, 2014 about a house in the Yonge and Lawrence area selling for almost double the list price. The house was listed for $699,000 and sold for $1,366,000 or 195% of the list price after receiving a total of 72 offers.

 

This article dovetails with the second article I read about the results of a recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario which stated that slightly more than half of today’s buyers are influenced by emotion when making real estate decisions. The top factors when purchasing a home are as follows, price 96%, functional fit 95%, structural integrity 91%, and neighbourhood quality 91%.

 

However, 51% of home buyers admit to having been influenced by emotion when buying their home. According to the survey, this number jumps to 64% for younger home buyers, who are emotionally and financially vulnerable. This is what I call buying with your heart instead of your brain. I made that mistake myself when I bought my first home.

 

First time home buyers need to be extremely careful when they enter into a “Bidding War”. They need to make sure their REALTOR® provides them with all the information regarding comparable sales of the same type of home in the immediate area to enable them to make a SMART DECISION.

 

Buyers often times refer to their buying experience when there is a “Bidding War” as winning. In my opinion, the only time you win in an auction type situation is when you purchase something for under market value. Paying 30, 40, or even 50 thousand dollars higher than the most recent sale in the neighbourhood is not winning.

 

Some people refer to bidding wars as the “School of Fish Mentality”. Just because everyone else is willing to pay more for a particular house, buyers seem to think it is OK and the house will be worth it.

 

The Real Estate Council of Ontario is launching BE HOME SMART – a public education campaign to remind Ontarians of the tools, resources and protection available to help them make smart home buying and selling decisions.

 

When in doubt, call one of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals to guide you through the buying or selling process.

NOW THAT’S COLD!!!!!!!!

imagesSSQSNPG7Is it cold enough for you? That is a question that has been asked many, many times in the last few days. As soon as someone comes into the office, it is a matter of seconds before you hear that question. I could share some of the responses but I don’t think they are suitable for publication.

I know the forecast for the next few days indicates a bit of a warming trend and you may think this is it for the extreme cold temperatures for this winter, but, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us. I have decided to share a few safety tips to help you endure these crazy cold temperatures.

If you have to go outside choose clothes that are appropriate for the weather; dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer; choose warm socks, gloves, hat and a scarf; and change into dry clothing as soon as possible if clothes get wet. If you are skiing, snowmobiling or skating, be sure to wear a facemask and goggles to protect from frostbite and windburn and keep moving to keep blood flowing. If you drink alcohol before you go outside, it could increase the risk of hypothermia because of increased blood flowing to your extremities.

Not only do we need to protect ourselves from the cold, we also need to protect out home. Always make sure your heating system is well maintained so it can handle the extra stress when it’s much colder outside. If you are heading south for a nice warm vacation it is a good idea to turn off the water supply and drain all the pipes. If you are staying home you should keep the lowest taps in the house open a little so the water keeps moving. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing. If your pipes do freeze never use an open flame to thaw the pipes – use a hair dryer instead.

If you absolutely must go out in your car make sure your gas tank is at least half full and make sure you cell phone is fully charged. You should also have an emergency kit that contains the following items:

  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Booster cables
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Candles
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Bottled water
  • Granola or energy bars.

I hope this information was helpful. Remember folks, Mother Nature can get very nasty at times so you need to play it safe when you are enjoying this lovely Canadian winter! If you have any tips of your own please share them with your fellow readers.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON – A TIME FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY – BUT LET’S BE SAFE!

Yes I know this post is late again, but it is the Holiday Season and I have been busy, you know guys, all that last minute stuff! My sincere apologies.

Every holiday season there always seems to be some tragic story about a fire, automobile collisions, or just some freak accident so I thought I would just give you a few safety reminders.

When it comes to real Christmas trees, make sure it is a fresh cut tree. When you bang the stump on the ground very few needles should fall. Also the needles should bend, not break and the stump should still be sticky with resin. Your tree stand should hold 2-3 litres of water and it should be topped up daily. Keep the tree away from any kind of heat source and never use lighted candles on your tree.

As far as decorations go, choose ones that are flame-retardent, non-combustible, and non-conductive. Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes as this combination is highly combustible. Your light sets should be Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved. Make sure you use the proper lights for the environment – indoor lights for inside and exterior lights for outside – do not mix these two types of lights.

Make sure your wood burning fireplace has been properly serviced and cleaned before starting your fire. Never burn gift wrappings, boxes etc. in the fireplace as they burn too rapidly and generate too much heat.

Remember not to overload electrical outlets. This is a common cause of house fires during the holiday season. Make sure all extension cords are CSA approved and make sure they are plugged fully into the outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.

Last but not least – make sure ALL your smoke detectors work!!

All the best to you and your family this holiday season and the coming year!

The Diary of a Disappointed Seller

NO, MY HOUSE IS NOT SOLD!

Many of you are aware I have been trying to sell my house for about the past year.

Is your house sold? must be the most frequently asked question when you have your house on the market. Take my word for it, if the house was sold you would be tired of hearing about it. The great price I got, the house I bought for of course a really low price, ad nauseum. I know, people are curious and assume it is sold and are just making conversation…

If you have never been in the ‘expired’ situation, you can’t appreciate the stages a homeowner goes through. Try to imagine the entries if one kept a diary.

Dear Diary:  I’m so excited!  We’ve decided to move!  There’s a few things we need to do to get ready, but it won’t take long

Dear Diary:  We’ve been working on the house for 7 months but we are finally ready to get it on the market. I hear houses are selling pretty fast!

Dear Diary:  Wow, just a few days and already we’ve had lots of people through!  How wonderful. Just waiting for an offer.

Dear Diary:  It’s been a month now, no offers yet, but the REALTOR® says the house shows great and the feedback is good.

Dear Diary:  3 months now… Never thought people made appointments then were an hour late, or worse yet didn’t show up!  Or those REALTORS®… Book a preview and don’t come “it was just a preview” they say.

Dear Diary:  Exciting! A REALTOR® just called. They have a buyer who must see the house immediately. They need to buy today and he thinks the house is perfect!  I  rushed home and got things all spiffed up. It looks great! Oh- got to stop. They have arrived early.

Well, that was a waste. Here 5 minutes. Didn’t want a one storey house… Didn’t the REALTOR® know that?

Dear Diary:  Open House today. Been cleaning all day. Hope someone comes and likes it.

Dear Diary: Well, it hasn’t sold, and it’s been 6 months…maybe we should just stay…

Yes, those entries reflect reality…

My house is off the market at least for now. Many tell you now is a great time to sell as there is less competition and houses show nice when decorated for the holidays and snow can hide some ‘issues’…

Well, I look at the flip side. Less competition – fewer buyers too, so less motivation to make an offer. As for decorations, if you need decorations to sell, maybe some staging would help. As for snow… What a mess with boots etc especially when you are all cleaned up and decorated for the holidays.

Disappointment aside, we will be going back on the market.  I just hope the ‘diary entries’ are fewer and more positive this time around.

And perhaps a heads up to my fellow REALTORS® out there. When we make appointments, let’s consider how we might feel if we were the home seller waiting for the showing, or getting the house ready …

Oh, and once the house is on the market again… don’t bother asking if it’s sold. You will know when it does… believe me